United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER 
I. SCHENKIER United States Magistrate Judge.
Colander has filed a complaint against Metropolitan Life
Insurance Company ("MetLife") alleging that when it
denied her claim for life insurance proceeds, MetLife
committed breach of contract (doc. # 1: Mot. to Remove, Ex.
B: Compl.). MetLife has filed a motion to dismiss
plaintiffs complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) (doc. # 10). The motion is now fully
briefed. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants
begin by setting forth the relevant, well-pleaded facts in
the complaint, as well as its attached exhibits and the life
insurance plans at issue (which, for reasons we explain
below, we may consider on this motion to dismiss).
working at Deloitte LLP, plaintiffs husband, Charles
Colander, had $316, 000.00 in optional group life insurance
coverage as part of his employee welfare benefits plan with
Deloitte LLP ("Deloitte Plan") (Compl., Ex. 7:
MetLife 05/31/2016 Letter at 2). In the event a person's
employment with Deloitte ends due to total disability while
that person is insured under the Deloitte Plan, that person
could be eligible for "extension of basic life
insurance, " for which no premium payment is required
(doc. #11: MetLife's Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss,
Ex. A: Deloitte Plan at 52, 56). Alternatively, if a
person's employment with Deloitte ends for any reason,
that person may be eligible for continuation of insurance
with premium payment through a "portability" option
which would "port" (or transfer) the person's
insurance coverage to a supplemental life insurance plan
(Id. at 36-37), The Deloitte Plan states that
MetLife will not pay insurance under both the Deloitte Plan
and a portable plan, and that to receive payment under the
Deloitte Plan, any portable plan policy certificate must be
"surrendered" to MetLife (Id. at 57).
November 3, 2014, Mr. Colander went on disability leave. He
applied for and was approved to continue his life insurance
coverage under the Deloitte Plan's total disability
waiver of premium provision (MetLife 05/31/2016 Letter at 2).
On August 28, 2015, Mr. Colander elected to accelerate his
Deloitte Plan, and he received a payment of 80 percent of its
value --$252, 800.00 (Id.). On September 7, 2015, he
was terminated as an active employee at Deloitte due to
disability; at that time, he had $63, 200.00 in his Deloitte
Plan coverage remaining (Id.).
October 30, 2015, MetLife sent an application to Mr. Colander
for portable term life insurance coverage in the amount of
$324, 000.00 (Compl., at ¶ 6; Compl., Ex. 1). Mr.
Colander submitted the application, and on December 22, 2015,
MetLife sent a letter stating that it processed his portable
term life insurance election, giving Mr. Colander optional
life coverage in the amount of $324, 000.00, effective
October 10, 2015 (Compl., Ex. 1). We refer to this life
insurance policy as the "Portable Plan"
(MetLife's Mem., Ex. B: Portable Plan). Plaintiff was
listed as the 100 percent beneficiary for the Portable Plan
(Id., Ex. 2).
Portable Plan states that the Certificate holder, in this
case Charles Colander (Compl., Ex. 3), "means a person
who was covered under a Former Plan on whose account
insurance is in effect. . ." (Portable Plan at 8). The
"Former Plan" is defined as "the group plan
insured by Us [MetLife] under which You [the certificate
holder] were provided the option or privilege of continuing
the insurance provided under such plan. Such insurance must
have ended as set forth in the provisions of such plan, which
specify that continued insurance will be provided under
another group policy" (Id. at 9). Coverage
under the Portable Plan was "dependent on [Mr.
Colander's] continuing eligibility, as defined in the
group certificate" (Compl., Ex. 2). In other words, Mr.
Colander was only eligible for life insurance coverage under
the Portable Plan if the coverage provided under his Former
Plan - the Deloitte Plan - ended (Portable Plan at 9).
Furthermore, the Portable Plan states that if the participant
- Mr. Colander - became entitled to a death benefit under his
Former Plan, his coverage under the Portable Plan would end
(Id. at 22).
beginning of January 2016, Mr. Colander sent a check to
MetLife for $1, 533.79, the premium due on the Portable Plan
(Compl., at ¶ 15). He died later in January 2016
(Compl., at ¶¶ 16, 19). On January 25, 2016,
plaintiff informed MetLife of her husband's death, and on
January 28, 2016, MetLife sent a letter requesting certain
documents regarding plaintiffs "expected claim
amount" for $324, 000.00 (Id., at ¶¶
17-18 and Ex. 6). On February 3, 2016, plaintiff completed
and returned the requested documents (Compl., at ¶ 19).
On February 29, 2016, payment was made under the Deloitte
Plan in the amount of $63, 200.00 (MetLife 05/31/2016 Letter
at 2), the balance of the amount of coverage remaining under
the Deloitte Plan after the accelerated payment in September
2015. On March 15, 2016, MetLife denied plaintiffs claim for
$324, 000.00 under the Portable Plan (Compl., at ¶ 20).
She appealed that decision (Id., at ¶ 22), and
MetLife upheld the denial (MetLife 05/31/2016 Letter at
ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, we construe
plaintiffs complaint in the light most favorable to her,
accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations, and draw
all reasonable inferences in favor of plaintiff. White v.
Keely, 814 F.3d 883, 887-88 (7th Cir. 2016). While the
Court is generally limited to considering the allegations in
the complaint on a motion to dismiss, "a court may
consider, in addition to the allegations set forth in the
complaint itself, documents that are attached to the
complaint, documents that are central to the complaint and
are referred to in it, and information that is properly
subject to judicial notice." Williamson v.
Curran, 714 F.3d 432, 436 (7th Cir. 2013).
plaintiff attached seven exhibits to her complaint in support
of her claim that MetLife breached its obligations under the
Portable Plan: (1) five pages of correspondence from MetLife
to plaintiff or her husband dated between December 2015 and
July 2016, (2) a "certificate specifications page"
from the Portable Plan, and (3) a monthly statement from the
Portable Plan. In its motion to dismiss papers, MetLife
attached a more complete copy of the Portable Plan as well as
a copy of the Deloitte Plan (MetLife's Mem., Exs. A and
argues that this Court should not consider the documents
attached to her complaint or MetLife's memorandum, or
that the Court should only consider the portions of the
documents to which plaintiff cites in support of her claim
(doc. # 21: Pl.'s Resp. to MetLife's Mot. to Dismiss
at 2). We disagree. A court "is not bound to accept the
pleader's allegations as to the effect of the exhibit,
but can independently examine the document and form its own
conclusions as to the proper construction and meaning to be
given the material." Burke v. 401 N. Wabash Venture,
LLC, 714 F.3d 501, 505 (7th Cir. 2013) (internal
quotations and citations omitted). "[D]istrict courts
are free to consider any facts set forth in the complaint
that undermine the plaintiffs claim . . . includ[ing]
exhibits attached to the complaint or documents referenced in
the pleading if they are central to the claim."
Bogie v. Rosenberg, 705 F.3d 603, 609 (7th Cir.
2013) (internal quotations and citations omitted).
respect to the seven exhibits plaintiff attached to her
complaint, she "has not only cited [these documents] in
the body of her complaint, but she has, to some degree,
relied on their contents as support for her claims, "
and there is no "indication from her-be it in the
complaint or the briefing-that the documents are not genuine
or that they have been falsified in some way."
Williamson, 714 F.3d at 436. We thus ...